An initiative to educate young people on stalking and coercive behaviour has been so successful it is now being offered to schools across the country.
Durham Constabulary teamed up with The Alice Ruggles Trust in 2019 to promote learning resources aimed at highlighting unhealthy relationship behaviours and stalking.
It followed the murder of Alice, who was just 24 when she was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Trimaan Dhillon, after three months during which he bombarded her with messages, hacked into her social media, and much more.
He drove 120 miles from his Army base in Edinburgh several times to try to see her, and then eventually to kill her in her Gateshead home in 2016.
Alice’s family has been working closely with the force’s Superintendent, Richie Allen, and Inspector, Emma Kay, to deliver the free lessons to dozens of secondary schools across the force area.
And as we mark Stalking Awareness Week, a new lesson has been added to the programme.
Reducing Inappropriate Behaviours will now join the other two lessons: Identifying Unhealthy Relationships and Managing Unwanted Attention to make up the Relationship Safety Resource.
The interactive lessons have been developed in collaboration with the PHSE Association as part of the relationships aspect of the new statutory RSE strand of PSHE education.
Each an hour-long, they are delivered across the school year by a dedicated team of trained officers and are primarily aimed at pupils aged 14 to 16.
The focus throughout is on raising awareness of the steps young people can take to support their safety and emotional wellbeing whilst also reinforcing that stalking and harassment are both socially unacceptable and illegal.
They have been so successful they are now being delivered in nine other force areas across the country.
Insp Kay said: “Lockdown has seen many stalkers change their behaviour: there has been an increase in cyberstalking and for many victims, life has become even more difficult.
“We wanted to find a way to educate young people on the dangers but also give them the confidence to recognise healthy and unhealthy relationships and know how they can get support if they need it.
“It’s been really encouraging to see the feedback from more than 1,000 students and teachers and I would encourage any schools interested to get in touch.”
Speaking about the launch Clive Ruggles said: “This National Stalking Awareness Week focuses on Unmasking Stalking.
“Our new lessons aim to do exactly that: giving young people confidence in recognising healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviours and knowledge of how to seek support.
“With one in four young people not knowing that stalking is a crime, it is vital that we upskill the next generation.”